Are You Going to the Mall or the Manger?

Did you know that Christmas is not in the Bible?

 

That’s right.

 

There’s no biblical evidence that Jesus was born in December. In fact, there’s no explicit information in Scripture about the time of year that Jesus was born. So, the whole celebration of the birth of Jesus – Christmas – is not based on the Bible.

“Celebration of the birth of Jesus’ Nativity are not mentioned in the Gospels or Acts; the date is not given, not even the time of year.”

 

“The extra-biblical evidence from the first and second century is equally spare: There is no mention of birth celebrations in the writings of early Christian writers such as Irenaeus (c. 130–200) or Tertullian (c. 160–225). Origen of Alexandria (c. 165–264)”

 

“The earliest mention of December 25 as Jesus’ birthday comes from a mid-fourth-century Roman almanac  [See NOTE:] that lists the death dates of various Christian bishops and martyrs. The first date listed, December 25, is marked: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae: “Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea.” ” (source)

 

“But for the first 300 years of Christianity, it wasn’t so. When was Christmas first celebrated? In an old list of Roman bishops, [See NOTE:] compiled in A. D. 354 these words appear for A.D. 336: “25 Dec.: natus Christus in Betleem Judeae.” December 25th, Christ born in Bethlehem, Judea. This day, December 25, 336, is the first recorded celebration of Christmas.”

 

“The first recorded date of Christmas being celebrated on December 25th was in 336, during the time of the Roman Emperor Constantine (he was the first Christian Roman Emperor). A few years later, Pope Julius I officially declared that the birth of Jesus would be celebrated on the 25th December.”

 

That’s why the commercialization of Christmas doesn’t bother me anymore. It’s not biblical.

So, let’s go ahead:

  • Let’s go ahead and take Jesus OUT of the holiday.
  • Let’s go ahead and make Jesus NOT the reason for the season.
  • Let’s go ahead and make all the hoopla into a “winter celebration” of snow flakes, snow people, feasting with family and friends, that lights up a dark and dreary time of year.

 

That’s fine with me.

But…

If you want to keep Jesus as the reason for the season, then consider:

 

Are you going to the mall or the manger?

 

How much is the Christ, the Messiah, the focus of your festivities?

 

In discussing the celebration of Christmas, my writing will be based on an Advent study I wrote and taught some years ago.

  • I invite you to consider your holiday plans and traditions.
  • I ask you to make deliberate choices about, (if,) and how you celebrate the birth of Yeshua, the nativity of Jesus.
  • I want you to be intentional with the ways you express your Christian faith to the world in this season of what has become a largely secular time of year.

 

Advent: The Coming –

 

Winter in Northern Climes

 

Waning sunlight, falling temperatures, slowing growth, dormancy, death.

In the midst of this time we look to Christ, the Light of the World, to give life and light to our world.

He comes – Immanuel – God with us.

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.                                       Isaiah 7:14 ESV

He comes:

  • as a child.
  • as a tiny baby.
  • as the Light of Hope.

 

The time is coming:             He is coming.

The time is here:                  He is here.

The time came:                     He has come.

 

So, What is Advent?

 

Advent: noun

Origin: 1125-75; Middle English < Latin adventus arrival, approach, equivalent to ad– ad- + ven– (stem of venīre to come) + -tus suffix of verbal action

  1. a coming into place, view, or being; arrival: the advent of the holiday season.

  2. (usually initial capital letter) the coming of Christ into the world.

  3. (initial capital letter) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.

  4. (usually initial capital letter) Second Coming.

The first definition is based on the root meaning of the original Latin – “a coming [as of] into place, view, or being.” While the denotation (definition) of advent is the arrival of something, the connotation (associated or implied meaning) is of something being awaited, being expected.

The second definition, “(usually initial capital letter) the coming of Christ into the world” refers to the arrival of the birth of Jesus. This coming, the nativity, celebrates “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”

14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.                             John 1:14 NKJV

The third definition, “(initial capital letter) the period beginning four Sundays before Christmas, observed in commemoration of the coming of Christ into the world.”

The fourth meaning, “(usually initial capital letter) Second Coming” connects the first coming of Christ with the also coming, also awaited, also expected, return of Christ to earth.

 

Expectations?

 

Today, in the US, October begins the time slide to the New Year.

Halloween decorations arrive in stores Labor Day (or this year, was it August?).

Before November, the Christmas “buy-me’s” appear.

The jack’o-lanterns turn into plain pumpkins.

Scarecrows become Pilgrims bearing turkey, indigestion, food torpor, and a surfeit of visiting family, friendly or otherwise.

Time rushes ever faster, increasing speed, like a runaway stagecoach in an old Western, speeding for the cliff edge and certain doom.  Can our hero(ine) stop the impending crash and save the (holi)day?

There’s just 7 more shopping days till Christmas, then just 4, then none.

It’s coming!

It’s here!

It’s over…

It’s gone.

 

What’s left?

 

  • A carpet of dried needles.
  • Mounds of clutter.
  • Piles of trash.
  • Stacks of bills.
  • A house stuffed with stuff.
  • And a nagging emptiness, of a soul unfed, a spirit neglected, a heart missing a piece of ________? Of what?

We ask:

“Is that all there is?”

“Isn’t there supposed to be ‘more’?”

  • “More” meaning?
  • “More” significance?
  • “More” peace?

 

Christmas: “Christ’s Mass”

 

I think Christmas, “Christ’s Mass,” has been lost in the rush, the hurry, the “busy-ness” of “the Holidays.”

Today I wonder, where is the “holy” in the “days”?

Christ: noun

origin: learned respelling of Middle English, Old English Crīst < Latin Chrīstus < Greek chrīstos anointed, translation of Hebrew māshīaḥ anointed, Messiah

  1. Jesus of Nazareth, held by Christians to be the fulfillment of prophecies in the Old Testament regarding the eventual coming of a Messiah.

  2. the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament (used chiefly in versions of the New Testament).

  3. someone regarded as similar to Jesus of Nazareth.

 

Mass: noun

origin: before 900; Middle English masse, Old English mæsse missa, formally feminine of Latin missus, past participle of mittere to send, dismiss; perhaps extracted from a phrase in the service with missa est and a feminine subject

  1. the celebration of the Eucharist. Compare High Mass, Low Mass.

  2. (sometimes lowercase) a musical setting of certain parts of this service, as the Kyrie eleison, Gloria, Credo, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei.

 

So, what do we have today?

 

More

  • stuff
  • busy-ness
  • over-spending
  • over-eating, yielding

Less:

  • joy
  • fulfillment
  • meaning
  • peace

 

Or is this what we want?

 

Less:

  • stuff
  • busy-ness
  • over-spending
  • over-eating, yielding

More:

  • joy
  • fulfillment
  • meaning
  • peace

 

So, how do we get what we want?

 

The same way we get anything of value: Good decisions and right efforts.

  • Evaluate your family’s past Christmas celebrations.

          Evaluation: What has Christmas usually been like for your family?

  • Choose what values you want as the basis of your family’s Christmas Celebration.

         Values Statement: What is important to you and your family?

  • Focus on your “reason for the season” as you envision a Christmas Celebration having significance for you and your family.

         Vision Statement: What does numbers 1) and 2) look like?

  • Plan the way to make your family’s Christmas Celebration unfold.

          Mission Statement: How do you make number 3) happen?

Ergo: 1) + 2) + 3) + 4) = A Personalized Family Celebration of the Birth of Jesus/ Yeshua

 

So how do we step off the merry-go-round from mall, to mart, to mall again?

 

  • How do we step into the stillness of that Holy Night at the Manger?
  • How do we exchange presents to each other for life in the presence of God?
  • How do we do less in order to be more?

More about that next time!

 

Blessings,

 

TLThomas

 

It’s ok to doubt, if you check it out!

Be a Berean!

 10The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.                   Acts 17:10, 11 ESV

Please join me in this journey of discovery.

  • Share this blog with others, whether they are doubting, or not.
  • Take what I say and CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF!

 

NOTE:
The Philocalian Calendar.

 

See What is Christmas Like for Your Family?

One thought on “Are You Going to the Mall or the Manger?

Comments are closed.